Steve Martin and Martin Short will perform at Verizon Theatre on April 8
When you're talking to Steve Martin and Martin Short, everything is a setup to a joke. Even a joke.
"I'm originally from Waco," Martin says when we ask him a question about his hometown. "I moved away to California when I was 5, leaving behind a wife and two kids."
"I hope you're not writing that down because that's my joke," Short says.
The pair first met on the set of the 1986 cult comedy ¡Three Amigos!, in which they starred alongside Chevy Chase as a band of silent film actors mistaken by beleaguered Mexican villagers as heroes for hire. Martin and Short have been trading jokes and bits ever since then.
Recently they joined forces for a live comedy tour called "An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Lives," which stops at the Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie on Saturday, April 8.
The tour came about after Martin and Short were asked to interview each other on stage at a comedy convention. Martin says they both had such a great time that they just decided to extend their engagement.
"We started looking at shows, and Marty already had a show and I already had a show, so we decided to blend them," Martin says. "Since we've blended them, we've actually made the show much more of a unified whole that we love to do."
Short says they've been rehearsing for this show ever since they became friends on the set of ¡Three Amigos!
"We've had 18,000 dinners over the years and that kind of ease and energy just translated to the stage," Short says. "I think we've both found through the years that if you find something that works, you don't just say, 'Well, we just did that.' You book more dates."
The two share a comedic sensibility that blends wit with an unbridled love of silliness. Together they also bring to the stage lessons and techniques they've learned from doing comedy for more than 40 years, including on shows like Saturday Night Live and Second City Television.
"I think there's a palpable connection that's not put on," Short says. "I think we do share a comedic sensibility that makes the show a blend. We're not the same person, but ... if Steve says, 'Hey, look at this comedian I saw on television. I think he's really funny. What do you think?' and I think it would be very odd if I didn't. I think our working approaches are very similar. We enjoy the process of trying to make something better."
"It's important to remember that that affection flows one way," Martin says.
Even if the two trade barbs in each other's presence, their regard for one another always seeps through.
"I'd have to say there's absolutely no competition between me and Marty," Martin says.
"I think it's that thing where you're playing tennis with a great player and your game improves," Short adds, "but we want the other guy to succeed because we know it's good for our pocketbooks."
Martin says he's particularly looking forward to their show at the Verizon Theatre.
"Every time I've played Dallas or the Dallas area, I've had such a great time, such great audiences," he says. "I've played with the Steep Canyon Rangers and Edie Brickell. Marty, have you ever played Dallas on your own?"
"I have," Short answers. "I've played with the Dallas Symphony in my day."
"It would have been better if you said 'no' and I would have said, 'Wow, I can't wait for you to experience it,'" Martin says.
"Well, I have experienced it and I got real applause," Short responds. "Nothing was papered."
The evening will also feature live musical performances from both comedians, including some time with the Grammy-winning bluegrass band the Steep Canyon Rangers, which often sees Martin playing his mighty banjo.
"We try to keep it on the comedy side," Martin says. "I do play one serious song but the rest is all comedy, including Marty."
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"We play a lot of music in the show," Short says, "but again, the headline is the comedy,"
"The headline is comedy," Martin notes. "The byline is 'Why is only one guy funny?'"
"And we'll leave it to your readers to figure out which one," Short says.
Steve Martin and Martin Short, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 8, Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie, 1001 Performance Place, $55 to $300, verizontheatre.com.